On a rainy October day in 2022 we toured Auschwitz-Birkenau, it’s taken me this long to put a short video together and subsequently write something about it. I’m not certain this is necessarily a better time to be re-visiting this content, with the current war in Israel raging, but I do think when they said “never again” they meant for all people.

           The weather was emblematic of the place; dark, cold, and mournful. Our guide Anna humbly escorted the group around both camps. There were a handful of places wherein no photos were allowed, and my video does not do justice to what went on in these camps. Anna was incredibly knowledgeable, she was from the area and told us of the rigorous historical training needed to become a guide here, her husband also worked for the museum and memorial, in the artifacts department. The entire tour carried a weight that we all read about and see in films and books and history classes, but it’s not until you step foot there…The only thing that I could come close to describing it being similar to is after 9/11 in New York, before One World Trade, before the memorial wall was built, before the fountains, when just life had started back up and you needed to get to work, but you got off the train and there was just a hole, maybe you couldn’t even really see it because of police tape and barricades, but you knew what was there, that’s the closest thing I can describe to being on the grounds of the concentration camps.

           While the “bunks,” “medical” buildings, gas chambers etc. were as harrowing to walk through as you might expect, it was the rooms filled with stolen personal belongings that put the inhumanity of the Holocaust into perspective for me. Storytellers and journalists often say that to really grab your audience you have to take a huge issue, one that people’s minds can’t comprehend, and bring it to the level of one person. Tell one person’s story, and then the audience relates to that person. We can’t imagine what 6 million people looks like, but we can imagine a family and their suffering. The rooms of stolen/confiscated items did this for me, the prayer shawls, the plates and bowls, the shoes, and then there was the luggage. The old timey, often name and address stamped luggage, used to pack up whatever people could bring, the meaningful, or valuable items in their households were put into suitcases before their forced “deportation” via the trains. These families shoved anything they held dear into suitcases and boarded cramped, standing room only trains only to arrive at the death camps and have their goods plundered by the Nazis. Their names still linger on the suitcases.


           If you cannot get to Poland, the website is a wonderful resource and the bookstore is the only place at which the proceeds from sales will go to helping the memorial and museum continue its work, so if you have the yearning to read about anything related to the Holocaust I urge you to buy from their bookstore and not a different retailer.

No items found.

More Projects